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11 best apps to learn German

11 best apps to learn German

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, learning German has never been easier or more convenient. If you don’t have the time or money for a traditional classroom-based German class, you might be considering using an app to help build your vocabulary, brush up on your grammar, and improve your pronunciation. We take a look at the options out there and break down the 11 best apps to learn German. 

Learning German with apps

While nothing can really beat the intensive, supported teaching style you get with an in-person German course, plenty of people turn to apps for reasons of finance or convenience. Like an online German course, learning German with an app allows you to go at your own pace and on your own schedule, fitting your lessons around other commitments like work, school or family

There are scores of apps available for learning German, but choosing the right one depends on your own learning style, and your goals. For instance, some apps strive to make learning fun by incorporating lessons into mini game-style formats, while others stick to more “traditional” teaching methods. Most apps also have a particular focus, for instance on drumming grammar rules into your brain, or helping you build vocabulary. 

When choosing an app, it’s also worth thinking about where the weaknesses lie in your own abilities. Mastering a language means nailing the four key components: reading, writing, speaking and listening. While some apps work on all four of these skills, most focus on one or two key areas. 

For all of these reasons, anyone seeking to learn German using an app would almost certainly benefit from trying out several apps at the same time. This helps you work out which learning style suits you best, while also balancing your studying so you are spending time improving both your reading and writing, and your speaking and listening. 

Top apps to learn German

If you want to brush up on your German ahead of moving to the federal republic, or are already living in Germany and want to broaden your vocabulary and practise your pronunciation at home, here are some of our top picks for apps to learn German. 

Free apps to learn German

If you’re on a budget, that shouldn’t hold you back. There are some great language learning apps out there that don’t cost a cent. Here are our favourite free apps to learn German. 

Duolingo

If you haven’t already heard of Duolingo, the self-styled “world’s best way to learn a language”, where have you been? Duolingo helps you build vocabulary and sentence structure with bite-sized lessons in the form of quizzes and challenges that help work your reading, writing, listening and speaking muscles. 

If you’re someone who struggles to stay motivated, you might like the simple, but surprisingly effective, “streak” feature, which measures the number of days in a row that you’ve completed your self-set learning goal. Over time, Duolingo’s exercises can get repetitive, but for beginners it’s a great place to start, and there’s lots to enjoy for a free app. There is a premium version, but the lesson content is exactly the same.   

 

Der Die Das App

As the name suggests, this app has one aim, and this is to help you learn the three German articles. This might seem like a simple concept, but those pesky articles are the downfall of many a German-learner, and so worth practising. 

With the Der Die Das App, which is completely free, you can look up words to find their articles, and also learn rules for assigning articles to various types of words. You can also compile lists of words you routinely struggle with, to work on later. The concept is simple, but for its narrow remit, Der Die Das App really nails it. Download it on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

DW Deutsch Lernen

You may already know the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, but did you know that it also has its own app for teaching vocabulary, grammar and conversational skills? DW Deutsch Lernen can take you from beginner to advanced level with interactive exercises and videos, covering everything from the alphabet to German for work. 

If you’re not sure how good your German is, you can start with a placement test to find the right course (from A1 to C2 level). This app’s focus on the conversational skills and vocabulary you’d need for everyday scenarios makes it ideal for someone who wants to land on their feet in Germany. To take your learning to the next level, you can also access additional content on the DW website, including podcasts and downloadable PDFs. 

Tandem

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might want to start improving your spoken German with a native speaker. Rather than offering actual lessons, Tandem is an app that connects you with other users worldwide, so you can practise your German via live chat, voice messaging, and video calling, and so “learn by doing”. In return, you’ll teach your mother tongue to your tandem partner. The app works by giving you a space to practise your German skills without fear of making mistakes or being misunderstood. 

To get started, you simply need to create an account, select the language(s) you want to learn, and explain a bit about your goals and your ideal tandem partner. You can then search native speakers of your target language within the community, and start your language exchange by sending a message. 

Free German learning apps with paid add-ons

These German learning apps are also free, but might be worth upgrading to gain access to a richer learning experience, or additional content: 

Drops

Designed for visual learners, Drops aims to make learning new languages fun and effective with game-like language lessons, with a particular focus on vocabulary training. In essence, Drops works by asking learners to match words to their translations in a variety of game formats that include text, images and audio. The lessons come in short bitesized chunks that last just five minutes, making learning a language super accessible.

Drops is free, but the premium version does include some valuable upgrades, including unlimited playtime, offline access, and pronunciation tests. 

Memrise 

Memrise is a language learning app with a twist: rather than having you build up vocabulary through repetition, Memrise is built around helping you master specific conversations, such as chatting about your holiday with friends or ordering food at a restaurant. 

As well as learning practical vocabulary and phrases, you can listen to more than 30.000 conversations between native speakers to tune your ear into their accents and way of speaking. There’s also a “Membot”, an AI language tutor, that lets you practise your pronunciation and gives you feedback. 

You can start using Memrise for free, but you need to upgrade to access all learning features and remove ads.

Busuu

Busuu is another comprehensive language learning app, combining lessons on vocabulary and grammar with a global community of native speakers who can give you learning support. You get started with a 10-minute placement test before diving into the bite-sized lessons that help you practise writing and speaking, with regular opportunities to test your progress.

Other cool features include a personalised study plan for your level, with the option to receive notifications to keep you on track, and a “Smart Review” that collates all the grammar and vocabulary you’ve learned, so you can go back and brush up any time you need. You even get Busuu language certificates to prove your language capabilities. 

Busuu is free to get started, but you’ll need to upgrade to premium to get your hands on all of its features.

Best apps for learning German that cost money

If you want to invest more heavily in your German language learning, you might want to opt for one of these premium language apps, which offer a bit more in the way of features:

Rosetta Stone

You’re probably already familiar with Rosetta Stone’s “immersive” approach to language learning. Now, the award-winning format has been transplanted into an app. The method works by using images, text, sounds and video to teach languages intuitively, without any translations. The lessons recreate real-life scenarios, teaching you the language you’ll need to interact when on holiday, at work, or speaking with family. 

The lessons are broken down into easy-to-tackle five to 10-minute chunks, and you can make use of the speech recognition function to help you master correct pronunciation. You also get a personalised learning plan and the ability to continue learning offline, but all of this doesn’t come cheap - Rosetta Stone is only available with a subscription and is one of the priciest options on this list. 

Babbel

Babbel is a great option if you’re serious about learning German and prefer the format of traditional lessons to games. The language courses are tailored in two ways - not only to your target language, but also to your native language, so you can learn in a way that makes sense to you. 

The short, effective lessons are built around a variety of everyday situations, and help you work on your listening, speaking and writing skills, while also offering a dialogue trainer and speech-recognition technology to help you perfect your pronunciation. You get your first lesson for free, but after that Babbel is only accessible with a subscription. 

Pimsleur

If your primary interest is to improve your spoken German, Pimsleur might be the app for you. This audio-based app consists of 80 hours of speaking and listening exercises, broken down into 30-minute lessons, and is entirely focused on conversational skills. It promises to have you holding your first conversation after just 30 minutes. 

The idea is that it teaches language the same way you learned as a child, by listening to native speakers, to improve your cadence and pronunciation. Rather than matching words and images on a screen, Pimsleur has your role-play, practice vocabulary, and listen to conversations while reading transcripts. The hands-free mode makes it perfect for doing on the move, even while driving! You can also integrate the app on your mobile phone through your smart speaker to work through the lessons at home. After the first free lesson, Pimsleur is only available with a monthly subscription. 

Lingopie

If you’re more into bingeing TV shows and movies than podcasts, why not try Lingopie? Lingopie is a video-based learning app that uses a database of thousands of TV shows, movies and shorts in your target language, to help you get your ear in. To ensure you don’t miss a word, you can select different play speeds, watch with dual subtitles, and click on words to translate and learn about grammar and pronunciation. 

The learning part comes in with exercises and quizzes based on the shows and movies you’ve watched, to help you practise what you’ve just learned. You can also work on your accent and pronunciation with dedicated videos. You can watch 10 minutes of videos per week for free with Lingopie, but to get the most out of the app you’ll need to upgrade to a monthly or annual subscription. 

The best app to learn German

Ready to learn German with an app? Millions of people are already doing so! Skip the language class and start learning today, by downloading one of these apps to learn German. Happy studying! 

Abi

Author

Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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